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How Do I Take Over As the Primary User If I Don’t Know the Apple ID or Password?

I have a mid 2011 iMac running OS 10.13.6. I bought it used a number of years ago and didn’t know to ask the previous owner for his user ID info. But I can’t use iTunes or the App Store. So how do I take control of my iMac? Thanks.
Allan S.

Comments: 3 Responses to “How Do I Take Over As the Primary User If I Don’t Know the Apple ID or Password?”

    2 years ago

    You’ll need to completely erase it and start fresh. You should have done that when you first bought it. I’d that anyway, even if you knew the password and you can’t ever be sure what is on that Mac since it was not yours.

    So first, you are going to have to get everything you want to keep off that Mac. Any documents you created, all of your settings, everything. I don’t know if you have 7 documents and not much else, or thousands and lots of other material. If you have a lot and aren’t sure what to do, you may need to get firsthand help from an expert. Then save that elsewhere to prepare to erase the drive. Also, make a complete backup to another external drive so you have some way to get to things you may have forgotten. Once you erase the drive, everything on your Mac will be gone so those copies and a backup will be all you have.

    Then reboot into recovery mode. Shut it down and then start it up with Option-⌘-R. Then use Disk Utility there to erase the drive before installing the latest version of macOS supported by that machine.


    I’m a little worried about your situation. The previous user could have had anything on that Mac. They could have recorded your keystrokes and copied your passwords as you have been working for all of these years. Even if the previous owner was trustworthy, they could have been careless and gotten malware on the Mac too. After you are done with this huge task of erasing and refreshing your Mac, I would change all of your passwords to all of your accounts (and security questions, etc).

    2 years ago

    Interesting. I bought a 5 year old Mac Mini on eBay. It was still in its sealed original packaging and clearly had not been previously started.
    For some time I was frustrated by notifications that updates – mostly for Words, Numbers apps. Problem was I couldn’t update because of incorrect ID. Everything else worked perfectly, I backed up and replaced Hdd with ssd successfully – but I couldn’t use the built in apps because of wrong Apple ID. Problem solved: delete apps. Download with my ID.

    2 years ago

    Apologies – not Words, but Pages in my earlier comment.

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